Instructional Design

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Implementing Best Academic Integrity Practices

About 75% of college students admit to cheating. This statistic is pretty accurate at every type and size of university or college. Not all students cheat, but some will always try to cheat, and as our counter-measures evolve, their methods become more creative.

Some such counter measures in Blackboard include:

  • Randomizing question order and/or pulling different questions from test pools for each student.
  • Showing a single question at a time.
  • Implementing time limits for exams and narrow testing windows.
  • Requiring the use of Respondus Lock-Down Browser, Respondus Monitor or a proctor.
  • Using tools such as SafeAssign, a plagiarism prevention and detection service. (Let students see their plagiarism detection score before they officially submit the assignment.)
  • Release grades, but withhold feedback until all students have completed the exam.

But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we can get our students to understand that plagiarism is wrong and the penalties are bad, we can often prevent it before it gets started. Make them think about not cheating before class begins and before they submit an assignment.

Ways to do this include:

  • Implementing an outside of class Academic Integrity quiz in Blackboard that tests students’ knowledge of the official honor code. Provide a link to the actual code for them to look up the answers. Make it count for a grade and require a 100 percent score (you will probably need to allow multiple attempts).
  • Include an Honesty Policy in the course syllabus with links to the official honor code.
  • Employ an Academic Honesty Statement in every assessment. The last question of of an exam could be “In completing this assignment or exam I have not violated Jacksonville University’s Honor Code. I understand violating the honor code could result in a failing grade for this class or expulsion from the university.” Make it a true/false question.

Making a student think about plagiarism and its consequences before they submit an assignment or take an exam can do far more than any counter-measures we implement.

Implementing a Syllabus Quiz

Do students actually read the syllabus, or do they just respond to due dates that are posted in Blackboard? Just following along in Blackboard is not the ideal way for students to make sure all course requirements are achieved. For many students, an assignment that is not in Blackboard simply does not exist.

Many classes have capstone or other cumulative activities or larger projects due at the end of the term. Have you ever had a student claimed to not know about an assignment that was due at the end of the semester? Most instructors have.

Sometimes the day we talk about a particular assignment a number of students will be absent. It is inevitable that a few of those students will have paid little attention to the syllabus. Implementing a syllabus quiz at the beginning of the term is one way to address the problem of students saying “I didn’t know”.

Some examples of the I didn’t know:

  • attendance was required
  • a doctor’s note was required for missing an exam
  • Wikipedia is not allowed as a source
  • that the writing center existed
  • I could not pass the class if I did not do the homework
  • we had to do a group project outside of class

Each of these examples could clearly be eliminated by reading the syllabus.

Implementing a multiple-choice syllabus quiz students are to take outside of class can help alleviate misunderstandings and get your students minds right at the beginning of the term by fully making students comprehend what they have to do in your class. This is also a great opportunity for students to practice using Repsondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor if you plan on giving online assessments during the semester.  You can also use this activity as feedback on your syllabi designing skills.

Consider implementing a syllabus quiz at the beginning of the term, require a perfect score (you will have to turn on unlimited attempts for the quiz) and have it count for low stakes (a few points). It could make things easier for you and your students – especially at the end of the semester.